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  1. My 2010 letter to Union of Concerned Scientists was ineffective, so I left the organization.

    Peter Frumhoff
    Director of Science and Policy and Chief Scientist, Climate Campaign
    Union of Concerned Scientists

    Re: Nuclear Power in a Warming World

    Thank you for visiting Hanover and inviting me to the UCS meeting on June 7. Your remarks on UCS concerns about nuclear power indicate strong opposition to this energy source, even though you said UCS has no official position on this. I took a copy of the December 2007 UCS brochure, Nuclear Power in a Warming World, which portrays exaggerated risks and no benefits.

    UCS disdains NRC’s safety culture, implying that the existence of any safety problem illustrates failure. Safety management is a process that requires the recognition, analysis, risk assessment, and procedure improvements for many, ongoing critical issues. Recognizing that perfect safety is not possible is key to managing it.

    The NRC budget is, I agree, inadequate. Also the funding is perverse, in that license applicants must pay NRC for all unknown costs involved in NRC’s work. This is particularly burdensome to applicants who propose new technologies, such as small modular reactors, since the NRC must spend significant money to recruit and train technologists who are competent to review the designs.

    The description of the Price Anderson act is deceitful, since it does not mention the nuclear industry is responsible for over $10 billion of liabilities and that the government officially bears none.

    The UCS complaint about not being able to cross-examine the NRC during hearings on specific power plants betrays obstructionism in my opinion. NRC needs to focus on cross-examining applicants.

    The recommendation that the NRC ensure “new nuclear plants are significantly safer than existing ones” omits the fact that NRC does this and that new proposed plant designs are two orders of magnitude safer, as evidenced by probabilistic risk analysis.

    The statement that “terrorists … could disable safety systems …. cause a meltdown of the core, failure of the containment structure, and a large release of radiation.” is not imaginably true.

    The UCS critique of terrorist vulnerability of spent fuel in cooling pools is correct. Recommendations to mitigate the effect of melting spent fuel rods would be helpful. Cooled spent fuel is today being transferred to safe, 50 ton concrete casks, as UCS recommends.

    The critique that NRC and the industry provide inadequate defense against terrorist threats is unwarranted and runs counter to my observations in visiting Seabrook and Vermont Yankee power plants.

    With respect to weapons proliferation, I agree with UCS that “there is little the United States or international community can do to prevent a determined nation from eventually acquiring such weapons.” But your writing “…civil stockpiles of plutonium, which terrorists could steal and use to produce nuclear weapons” is certainly wrong.

    Certainly the world needs to guard any stockpiles of plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel, as does France. But this reactor grade plutonium can not be fabricated into weapons by terrorists. Even nation states with determination and adequate technical and financial resources would not do this, because there exist much more practical, easy, proven, economical ways to make more powerful nuclear weapons, as illustrated by Pakistan, India, and North Korea. Nuclear war is a serious concern; operating nuclear power reactors does not increase the risk. Yet increasing the number of nations with uranium enrichment plants may enable the nations to produce highly enriched uranium for weapons.

    The statement “None of the proposed new reprocessing technologies would provide meaningful protection against nuclear terrorism or proliferation.” flies in the face of the work done at the University of Chicago development of the Integral Fast Reactor, which maintains plutonium within the bounds of the plant and always contaminated with other radioactive material.

    The current UCS recommendation that the US take the lead in foregoing reprocessing was proven ineffective. The US did not reprocess, yet Russia, UK, France, Japan, and other did.

    The section on safe disposal of nuclear waste needs to be updated. Yucca Mountain is (temporarily at least) off the table. Deep borehole technology developed by the oil exploration industry provides a promising way to store unwanted radioactive waste 3 to 5 km below the earth’s surface. The Blue Ribbon Commission on nuclear waste management is in session. Reprocessing would indeed increase waste depository capacity by reducing the volume of unwanted radioactive materials to just the fission products, as these decay to much lower heat producing materials in a few hundred years. The fissile materials retrieved can seed new generations of advanced nuclear reactors.

    The UCS choice of the French EPR (“only one”) as “significantly less vulnerable to severe accidents” is odd. Other Gen III+ reactors by GE and Westinghouse are similarly designed with passive safety systems, as are any new reactor designs (such as PBMR) that would be proposed to or accepted by the NRC.

    Opposed by UCS, GNEP is now unfunded. It met UCS’s recommendations of limiting uranium enrichment, but non-weapons states such as India and South Africa that wanted to export nuclear fuel stalled this initiative. But this is precisely what UCS recommended, “Such controls should not discriminate between nations that have nuclear weapons and those that do not.”

    I recommend that UCS take a fresh look at its published (if unofficial) position on the potential for Nuclear Power in a Warming World.

    Robert Hargraves
    Hanover NH
    UCS member
    robert.hargraves@gmail.com

  2. Fortunately, in reality these organizations have little effect on the real world. What is the costs of protests to a nuclear reactor in the United States? Bad publicity costs lets say 1 million dollars. Revenue generated over a nuclear plant’s life-cycle is in the 100,000 million dollar range. These environmental groups are simply taking credit for shutdowns they barely affected. Its like protesting sunshine, and claiming that the fact it rained last monday was a result of your protest.

    When a price is put on carbon, there is nothing environmental groups will be able to do. Nuclear physics and economics will overwhelm these stupid organizations.

    1. I don’t know how you came up with 100,000 million dollars, but it is about a factor of six too high; and at that it’s revenue so it doesn’t account for the debt service. I went like this:
      40 years is 350,400 hours;
      assume 1,000 MW
      and $50/MW-hr
      90% capacity factor
      that’s 16,000 million dollars.

      Maybe I goofed?

  3. The issue, as I see it, is that environmental groups are living in a fantasy land when it comes to understanding just how many calories of energy we consume, and the inefficiency of renewables. They don’t want nuclear, coal, oil, gas, or anything; but wind, solar and biomass are “acceptable” in their minds precisely because they are expensive, labor intensive and don’t work very well. To many environmentalists, cheap energy is a curse, not a blessing, And no amount of safety statistics or education will convince them otherwise.

    And then there’s white people’s guilt. They can’t come to terms that they won the birth location lottery, so they pretend to sacrifice and scrimp to help “mother Earth.” Bleeding Gums Murphy told Lisa Simpson “The blues ain’t about feeling better, it’s about making other people feel worse,” and like the blues, the environmental movement devolved into making everyone feel guilty about their lifestyle, all the while ignoring reality in favor of an unviable goal.

  4. “They don’t want nuclear, coal, oil, gas, or anything; but wind, solar and biomass are “acceptable” in their minds precisely because they are expensive, labor intensive and don’t work very well”

    Do you offer this premise seriously? Seems facetious to me. You are painting a very wide swath of people with a very narrow brush with your entire comment. It just seems to me that the “us against them” sentiment that seems so prevalent here is self defeating.

    You would be hard pressed to convince me that the bulk of the “environmentalists” consider “cheap energy a curse, not a blessing” in a negative way. In actuality, the “cheapest” energy right now, as it stands, happens to be that energy produced by fossil fuel. Using your logic, and considering the high cost of putting a new nuclear plant online, the greens oughta be embracing nuclear, eh? Not so, is it?

    Could it be that your comment is oversimplistic, and more than a little disingenuous in its description of the “character” of the environmentalist movement?

    I hate to keep beating a dead horse, but the message conveyed by your comnment, that alienates you from the very sector you should be seeking to woo, is hardly the kind of attitude or message thats going to prove competitive against the message conveyed by the wind and solar marketing message. Constantly attacking competitive technologies while belittling and insulting those who advocate for those technologies hardly constitutes a winning marketing strategy.

    1. I don’t think pro nuclear folks ought to woo environmental movement woo-woos. Too little return on too much of an investment, as the continuing attitude of certain commenters on this blog demonstrate. The environmentalist leadership I doubt will change as they have too much invested into their message, and supporting nuclear might set off revolution from below.

      Best to go with trying to convince convinceable persons in the educated general public. For whatever reason, people with more education support nuclear more than less educated people do. Convincing them that nuclear is clean air energy that just might be the best weapon we have against climate change could be one way forward. Or if folks prefer a non AGW message, certainly several could be crafted.

    2. “You would be hard pressed to convince me that the bulk of the “environmentalists” consider “cheap energy a curse, not a blessing” in a negative way.”

      Maybe not the bulk, but I’ve certainly met plenty of people who call themselves environmentalists and who not only claim that making energy more expensive would be good for the environment, but that it is actually *essential* that energy becomes more expensive if the environment is to be protected. It is exactly for that reason that they shrug when I tell them that nuclear energy is so much cheaper than intermittent renewables. After all, once you buy into the (false) notion that cheap energy is a problem for the environment in and of itself, then you automatically arrive at the conclusion that expensive renewable energy is not only great because it is renewable, but *also* because it is expensive.

  5. “Some of your staffs are degreed in the sciences, but surprisingly many whom you assign to anti-nuclear activities are PolySci grads at best. “

    I love that part. Some rather good news:

    Europe Power Prices Fall as EDF Online Reactors Near 3-Year High

    EDF, based in Paris, was operating 56 of its 58 nuclear plants, according to RTE, the French grid operator. The utility had 57 units online earlier, the most since January 2011, before an unplanned halt at a reactor today. ( http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-01-15/europe-power-prices-plunge-as-most-edf-reactors-online-since-11 )

    The St. Alban-1 unit was taken off line for some maintenance issue.

    There is another storm system about to slam Britain so I imagine the dependable electricity will be most welcome.

    Unfortunately a corrosion issue in fuel rods will need to be fixed in 25 French reactors in the near future. Is this a new type of fuel rod/metal mix ?

    1. Oh my, I’ve been reading incredible things about that corrosion issue on the fuel tube since a few days. Apparently many people, including Greenpeace, just do not, or at least want to claim not to, understand that a fuel tube is a removable part, and can if really needed just be replaced at the next refueling. In addition to the fact of ignoring their corrosion is a natural phenomenon that has always existed.

      Actually reading for the first time an technically informed comment on the issue from SFEN (Société Francaise d’Energie Nucléaire), I see that they are not reused (I did wonder if the discussion meant they were used several time to save money).

      The question is just about the maximum length of time they can be left in the reactor, and it’s consequences on the achievable burn-up rate.
      ASN recently concluded from measurements made that the corrosion is sometimes faster than planned, and is under discussion with EDF to use a larger security margin which would result in removing them earlier from the reactor. If one of them were to fail for corrosion reason, this would result only in a contamination of the primary circuit which would be immediately detected, and the reactor could be stopped and the rods replaced before anything significant happens.

      1. I worry more about downtime and pollutants form other fuels to be honest. I hoping its something that can be dealt with during regular refueling. Im sure the anti nuke morons are frothing at the mouth but im not going to even check. They are totally irrelevant.

  6. A better way to do this revenue thing for people is to spell it out better:

    An AP1000 producted 24,000 MWhrs a day…based on 1000MWs (it’s actually higher but I round it out lower to make it easier to understand). At $50 a MWHr, that means revenue flow from the reactor for a *day* equals $1,2000,000. If you multiply that for a year you get $438,000,000 People are used to seeing it this way. Then…assuming you get your first 40 years in at this static revenue rate, it equals $17,5200,000,000. It’s a 3rd higher if you go 60 years.

    Now…this is, for the United States, a little less than twice the cost of the reactor. Not great but better than nothing and it’s all low carbon and it’s baseload. The Chinese with less than half our reactor costs will allow these CAP1000s (and CAP1400s) to be great revenue steams.

    David Walters

    1. HB Robinson 2, ~670Mwe went commercial Mar ’71, it was a Westinghouse 3 Loop turnkey, reported cost $55M, still operating. Many early ’70s plants came on line at ave cost $170M, most still operating. Current Davis Besse Steam Generator Replacement outage cost, reported cost $1B. DBNPP original mid ’70s estimate, $167M, commercial in ’78 at ~$360M. Whew… today’s NPP costs; inflation I bet (wink, wink) mjd.

  7. The problem is far from being with the PolySci grads. The issue, plaguing Washington and the Greens, is that these places are being run more and more by lawyers.

    Lawyers do not wish to create value. Idle time is, after all, billable time.

    1. But PolySci graduates and other “policy” type degrees create people who have the illusion that they know how to make complex decisions, without actually having any education on the topic about which they are making decisions.

      It’s analogous to a teacher who has a wonderfully high GPA earning an education degree, but doesn’t actually have any course-work outside education, and so has no useful knowledge base to teach.

      Now, if “Policy and Law” and “Public Policy” and “PolySci” students were required to obtain science or engineering degrees and work at a meaningful job in industry before being admitted to their degree program, things might be different. But from what I can tell, these people are mostly ones who decided at some point in their lives that they should get to make the big decisions for society, but that they didn’t actually want to work at knowing anything useful to society.

      Unfortunately, it seems to serve the interests of monied parties to let these credentialed, but otherwise foolish people make and/or influence the big decisions. Sigh.

      I was reading some discussion about California’s water and energy problems, and it quickly decayed into a partisan finger pointing match. The fact is that both the liberals and conservatives, or both the democrats and republicans, or however you want to divide it up, have been shamefully neglecting infrastructure in this country. California is just the first and worst to show the cracks. ERCOT is predicting too little generating capacity in Texas by 2015. Other states face similar issues sooner or later.

      AFAICT, the democrats kill infrastructure projects by throwing bones to their environmentalist supporters. The republicans kill them because they might involve taxing a rich person to pay the cost, or create or support a regulation that makes life better for society.

      But in either case, the wealthy elite have both parties doing exactly what they want. None of their money will be taxed to pay for infrastructure improvements that those wealthy people used to become wealthy in the first place.

      1. “The fact is that both the liberals and conservatives, or both the democrats and republicans, or however you want to divide it up, have been shamefully neglecting infrastructure in this country”

        Its a real shame that more people cannot grasp the FACT that Washington scumbaggery knows no partisan alliances. Both sides of the aisle are despicably beholden to the multi-interests lobby machine whose gears now run Washington DC. “Representation” is no longer profitable. While We The People, distracted and ill-informed, argue along the lines scripted by Fox News and MSNBC, these pieces of excrement in DC accumulate ever more wealth and power of a kind that has little or nothing to do with the best interests of our nation.

        Ignorance and misinformation is the fodder with which the partisan divide, (between the people), feeds itself.

        1. Political leadership got a lot better at picking their voters than the voters got at picking their politicians.

          If a politician holds his seat by the gerrymandered graces of the political leadership, then he must pander to that leadership.

          If on the other hand, a politician has his seat due to the opposite party gerrymandered such that he sits for an outcast district, then that politician will pander to his political base, which will be most divergent from the political center.

          Either way, pander to the leadership or pander to the base, the common sense political center loses.

          I wonder if the seeds of our destruction weren’t sewn from the outset.

    2. The problem is far from being with the PolySci grads. The issue, plaguing Washington and the Greens, is that these places are being run more and more by lawyers.

      @Daniel

      Again, I think the perspective is entirely backwards here. Rather than figure out who you can dismiss and do better without: environmentalists, radiation protection and health professionals, NRC regulators, renewable energy advocates, PolySci grads, lawyers, bankers, academics, peer reviewed journals, or anything else that is sometimes cited as a obstacle and challenge for nuclear advocates, why not figure out who you can live with (and where new partnership and new alliances may be built).

      If engineers and a few critics of LNT are the only folks left standing (and those directly involved with the industry), it’s going to be a long and hard slog. Go to where you are not welcome, and make your case. Ask new questions, change people’s thinking, take what people are already excited about (and improve on it). This is what Pandora’s Promise is all about. I’m not sure why it shouldn’t be the raison d’être of everyone else who wishes to want to see nuclear succeed. Talk to Michael Moore, Google, NRDC, Sierra Club, others (who aren’t as wacky and fringe as many in environmental community). Heck, even give them some funding, or hire some of their representatives to work as “an observer” at a nuclear plant? By all means, engage with the world (as it is), and don’t retreat from it (as you wish it to be)?

      Can’t get any traction. No problem, look closely at what is not working, and fix it. Engineering energy systems most effectively doesn’t stop at the plant boundary.

      Lawyers do not wish to create value. Idle time is, after all, billable time.

      Sure they do … if you’re on the winning side of the argument. I really don’t see an alternative?

      1. @Brian Mays

        Thanks for pointing out.

        If three power plants were doomed to a guy with a B.A. degree in political science, I have to wonder if the industry has it’s act together?

        Or maybe it’s just always on the wrong side of the argument.

        1. EL – You’re welcome.

          Wow! You really don’t pass up an opportunity to bait someone. Sorry, ain’t gonna work this time.

  8. “Can’t get any traction. No problem, look closely at what is not working, and fix it”

    Doesn’t seem to be a desirable strategy for most here.

  9. From the obscure perspective:

    Nuke power seems to have a lot of smart people behind it. More and more of the influential environmentalists are getting behind it. They are writing letters to influence their peers Is that enough?

    No!

    What got the anti-nukes going many years ago? They had Jane Fonda and lots of other movie stars, rock musicians and various celebrities rallying their corner. Hollywood still finances them.

    Nuke power needs better endorsements. Sell it like tooth paste or mouthwash. Get a few MVPs, movie stars and famous musicians behind it and you’ll see those plants built. Think about it.

    1. Nuke power needs better endorsements.

      Eino – Fifty-five years ago, nuclear power had none other than Walt Disney endorsing it. Of course, back then, young Americans were far more interested in genuine science, particularly the physical sciences, than they are today.

      Today, “technology” = iPad = cheap gadget for idiots

      And today’s Disney Company is far more interested in promoting merchandise than inspiring any kind of genuine curiosity about anything outside their own tired brand.

      1. Of course, back then, young Americans were far more interested in genuine science, particularly the physical sciences, than they are today.

        @Brian Mays.

        Where do you get this stuff? Educational attainment is much higher today than 55 years ago in the US. I would hazard to guess in nearly every discipline. Where we fall behind is in contrast to other countries … not with our own history.

        Today’s students are quite over achieving (in my experience). Over scheduled, and highly competitive. If you find they are lacking, you might want to try talking to a few (maybe teaching a bit more), and stop watching so many Disney movies!

        1. Educational attainment is much higher today than 55 years ago in the US.

          EL – I didn’t say that more people weren’t enrolling in higher education. Sadly, far too many of these students are opting for easy and nearly worthless degrees in such fields as Psychology and Political Science. (Hey … at least they have a future as an operative for Greenpeace or as an Internet troll, so I guess it’s not a total waste.)

          Why don’t you stick to your own field, grad student? I was talking about real science, and I’m speaking from personal experience watching physics programs at liberal arts colleges drop from enrollments that used to include dozens of students four decades ago to about three today, all while overall enrollment in the college has increased. I speak from experience watching universities close their physics departments altogether in both the US and the UK.

          When I was in graduate school, the university’s physics department had to import roughly half of its incoming class each year from China to fill its graduate program. Over 80% of its graduate computer science program was filled with students with undergraduate degrees from schools in India.

          If today’s American students are so “quite over achieving” in science and technology, then why have American companies been pushing so hard to expand the number of H-1B visas?

          That’s where I get my stuff.

          Who gives a damn if you think that American students are overachieving at PolySci?

          1. Who gives a damn if you think that American students are overachieving at PolySci?

            @Brian Mays

            Apparently because PolySci students appear to be kicking the butts of engineers and industry. Even those with just a BA, and law degree they aren’t using (as policy analyst).

            If you want to compare to foreign students (I would agree). But by all accounts, we’re better off now than the 50s.

            Numbers look pretty good to me (at least for 2001 – 2012):

            http://www.aip.org/sites/default/files/statistics/rosters/physrost12.pdf

            “The number of physics degrees earned in the U.S. continues to rise with bachelor’s and PhDs yet again reaching all-time highs.”

            If they’re all foreign students, we should be giving them green cards … and employing them in the States. Especially if they’re earning advanced degrees here. Sounds like a no brainer.

          2. I have to agree. I think pound per pound, students and young people “back when” were more fascinated and interested — and even maybe even awed — in the sciences, especially the physical and tech sciences than the majority of kids today. I remember them at the NYC World’s Fair with the same enthuse which today’s kids pack rock concerts. Maybe because today’s kids been jaded by imagination-draining film special effects and spoiled rotten by the technology we have today but they hardly know works except as a thrill toy, maybe? What said it for most was when Obama said something along the lines of “The Moon? We been there and done that.” Geese, what ever happened to genuine curiosity and exploration besides scoring achievement points?

            James Greenidge
            Queens NY

          3. If today’s American students are so “quite over achieving” in science and technology, then why have American companies been pushing so hard to expand the number of H-1B visas?

            You have it backwards.  There are so many foreigners in the USA, bidding down the pay and slashing the employment prospects for STEM degrees, that smart Americans are looking elsewhere for decent pay and job security.  Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are bringing IIT grads here for their own benefit, to transfer more money from labor to capital.

          4. Engineering Poet:
            “You have it backwards. There are so many foreigners in the USA, bidding down the pay and slashing the employment prospects for STEM degrees, that smart Americans are looking elsewhere for decent pay and job security. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are bringing IIT grads here for their own benefit, to transfer more money from labor to capital.”

            +1 to what EP wrote.

            There is not shortage of trained technical people in the USA. There is only a refusal of big corporations to hire them for one reason or another. Mostly a refusal to hire anyone older than 40, even when that person is happy to take an entry level salary just to get back in the door, because the alternative is working at Lowes.

            If you actually job hunt, you’ll find a large percentage of the jobs are “new graduate” only. They don’t care that an older person could do the job better and faster and is willing to do it for the same money. They will **only** hire a person new out of school for that position. Period.

            So, while I generally agree with your overall point, Brian, there is no shortage of technically educated Americans. Although, as EP writes, if we continue to let our corporations displace USA workers, and permanently discard those over 40, then why in the world would our young people continue to study those topics?

            For the record, I’m happily employed at a great tech start up, but I spent 6 years as an unemployed EE. It was 1.5 years since I had earned my EE degree. I was not a “new graduate”, but I did not have enough experience to qualify for any of the experienced positions. During the 1.5 years I worked, I earned top bonuses and a substantial raise, but when they downsized, I was one of the least experienced folks there.

            I even went back to school in that time and took more EE classes, but since I was not about to graduate, I could not be considered for any “new graduate” positions. And this wasn’t just one corporation. This was **all** of them.

            AGain, there’s no shortage of engineers and techys. There is a serious problem in how the corporations have structured the hiring policies. I can go to almost any hardware store and find you a handful of qualified engineers these days.

        2. I’m shocked! That can’t be right. How could that be?!

          Why … we didn’t even have a Department of Education back then. 😉

        3. Standardized curriculums are part of the problem — although I can see how they’re meant to ensure that every class has covered a minimum of material.

          My son just finished elementary school. They didn’t even do the multiplication tables until 4th grade. They taught addition and subtraction of fractions one year, but didn’t cover multiplication and division even though it’s easier. When teaching least common multiple and greatest common factors, they don’t teach the factoring to primes methods.

          The teachers (most of them) were pretty good and would have covered more. But they are required to follow this retarded curriculum by the school district and possibly the state.

          But — my son also tells me that many of the students in those classes, instead of being bored were struggling to keep up. So the mandated curriculum was actually just about the perfect speed. The slowest were struggling. The quickest were bored out of their minds.

          The problem with the system is that the slowest and the quickest are in the same classroom and there’s no option to tailor the curriculum to the abilities of the students.

          When I went to elementary school, 60 -90 students were assigned to a “team” of three teachers. All three teachers each taught all the topics, but one teacher taught a slow version, one taught a middle and one taught a fast. And the slow teacher for English, might be the fast teacher for Math. Then they arranged the kids amongst those three teachers according to their ability. If a student suddenly blossomed in a topic in the middle of the year, they’d slide him over to the next fastest teacher for that topic during science hour, or for whatever topic.

          Oh, they didn’t talk openly about who was fast and who was slow, but there also wasn’t any belly aching about damaging anyone’s precious ego on the topic either.

          Fast kids got a better education. Slow kids got more attention and a curriculum that wasn’t so frustrating and mystifying. How was this not a better system than the one-size-fits-all we have today?

          My kid is in 6th grade now, which is part of “middle” school here for some reason. He was admitted to the academic magnet school, I’m proud to say, but why in the world does he have to put up with a one hour bus ride in each direction every day in order to get the academic challenge that ought to be available to fast kids at every school?

  10. More from the obscure viewpoint:

    “And today’s Disney Company is far more interested in promoting merchandise than inspiring any kind of genuine curiosity about anything outside their own tired brand.”

    A few topics back, there was discussion of “The China Syndrome.” We’re still talking about that movie and it was made in the mid 1970s. Prior to that the Atomic Energy Commission put out some “Gee Whiz” movies when the US government was pushing science because of Russian fears. Nuke power did well back then, The public’s concsciousness was behind it.

    Has there ever been a non documentary movie that portrays the good that nuclear power does? Maybe, if today’s Disney made such a movie, it would alter public perception. I’ve learned the hard way in my own life that perception can become reality.

    Green people are smart. They put ads for windmills and solar on the TV and on the internet. You see smiling faces and happy children. You’ve may have noticed that they don’t even mention nukes most of the time. Nuke Power needs to be branded with clean energy.

    1. Most of the TV ads I’ve seen promoting wind and solar are from fossil fuel companies greenwashing their worldwide extraction and distribution enterprise, and encouraging use of intermittant unreliables that will always need their energy source as backup.

      Also, it doesn’t hurt to throw a few hundred million dollars at the media conglomerates in the form of paid advertising, just in case you need a political ally in the business office to squelch overly vigorous reporting when your oil rig/pipeline/refinery blows up.

      1. Actually they unfortunately aired that about 2 month before Fukushima, and they ended up doing short cutting the initially planed wide release.

  11. The US National overview is out for jan. I thought we would have some cold records for the month. I was wrong:

    The January 2014 temperature ranked near the middle of the 120-year period of record, and was the coldest January since 2011. Despite some of the coldest Arctic air outbreaks to impact the East in several years, no state had their coldest January on record.

    Above-average temperatures were observed from the Rockies, westward. Arizona, California, and Nevada each had January temperatures ranking among the 10 warmest on record. No state had an average monthly temperature that was record warm.

    Based on NOAA’s Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during January was 38 percent above average and the 17th highest in the 1895-2014 period of record. ( http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2014/1 )

    Precipitation in the north has been about normal – drought out west of course. In the southern hemisphere the heatwaves and blackouts have been notable so the global report is going to be interesting. Energy is not just a luxury in inhospitable conditions.

    BTW a strongly pro nuclear mayor was just elected in Tokyo earlier this month. So we could see marked progress on the emission situation in Japan very soon.

    1. I suspect that the Japanese are more concerned about the economic situation than the emissions situation, but your point is well-taken.

      1. No for sure its mostly about economics; Record trade deficits just last month, electric rate increases, slower growth than expected in exports and a government debt that is over 2 times GDP. (Greek gov debt is about 1.6 times).

        1. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/02/14/uk-japan-economy-trade-idUKBREA1D04J20140214

          Japan’s trade deficit was $24.5 billion last *month*. With the drop in the yen that’s equal ~6.3%(!!) of Japan’s ~$4.7 trillion GDP. That’s what happens when you have to import ~$300 billion in energy, or roughly 95% of you total consumption.

          The US monthly trade deficit is down to around $35b/month now, but our economy is ~3.5 times larger… My how the times have changed. I can remember when Japan made everything and had the world’s largest trade surplus not too long ago, and the US had enormous trade deficits, but it looks like Japan will soon have a larger deficit total than the US.

  12. This was a good letter. But why write to Al Jazeera America? Just how politically correct do we have to be? There are 2.6 Muslims in the US and 78.2 million Catholics. Why not write to the National Catholic Register and to the US Council of Catholic Bishops which (because of the infiltration of liberal progressivism) is almost always reflectively anti-nuclear? Muslims don’t need to be convinced about nuclear power (just look at Iran and its bid for nuclear weapons status under the guise of nuclear power).

    1. Maybe because someone at AJ America might read his letter. Why would a priest be interested in energy issues? All they seem to care about is laying guilt trips, being cranky, give us money, getting people to have a lot of kids and ways to guilt trip people to give money.

    2. I’d be extremely surprised if more than 20% of Al Jazeera America’s viewership was actually Muslim.

      You do have a point though on the weird hostility to nuclear power among Catholic organizations — weird in that you’d expect they’d be especially strongly motivated to fight Malthusian environmentalism.

  13. Disney could start promoting atomic energy soon by updating the 18-year-old-enough-to-vote Ellen’s Energy Adventure. There is a mention of nuclear fission for a moment, when Bill Nye says it is “expensive and controversial” but nothing else. Right now the Universe of Energy has no sponsor (used to be Exxon) but wouldn’t if be great if a company like Areva or Westinghouse sponsored the pavilion, changed the show (so Ellen does not spend so much time losing on Jeopardy, what a bore)? So maybe some of you who work or Westinghouse or Areva could give the Disney company a call? Oh, and there’s a bonus: At these sponsored pavilion, people who work for the sponsor can hang out and can drink all the sodas you want in the exclusive lounges these places have.

  14. Energy Secretary Moniz dedicated the over 2 billion dollar, 392 megawatt 4,000 acre Ivanpah solar plant yesterday. Already, beyond its ridiculous land use per megawatt numbers and its intermittentcy its being implicated in wildlife issues:

    “The company, which is based in Oakland, Calif., reported finding dozens of dead birds at the Ivanpah plant over the past several months, while workers were testing the plant before it started operating in December. Some of the dead birds appeared to have singed or burned feathers, according to federal biologists and documents filed with the state Energy Commission.” ( http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304703804579379230641329484?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304703804579379230641329484.html ).

    “Autopsies have shown the cause of death for many birds at Desert Sunlight has been blunt force trauma when the animals collide with panels mistaken for water” ( http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/10/bird-feathers-singed-solar-power/3491617/ ).

    So they are not just being burned. Many are probably flying some distance from the site before dying. I imagine some are at least partially blinded as well. How could any “environmentalist” support such a project?

    1. How could any “environmentalist” support such a project?

      @John T. Tucker

      Efforts to reduce this number are improving (and operators are addressing the issue).

      “Developers of the plant admitted that 44 birds had perished at the plant since all three 459-foot steam generating towers became operational in December, but said that biologists and other scientists were at work to develop strategies to reduce avian casualties.”

      You source suggests 19 birds last month. At 392 MW and 32% capacity factor, Ivanpah produces 93.3 GWh of electricity/month. That’s 0.2 per GWh. Some 1/3 the avian deaths related to nuclear power generation.

      Their desert tortoise conservation, hatchery, translocation, and re-population programs are also significant (and may likely reduce natural mortality rates, rather than increase them).

      Agreed … issue needs close monitoring. And they appear to be under significant public pressure (warranted in these cases) to do this work.

      1. EL, we have amply debunked Sovacool’s paper here about nuclear bird kills, and with personal intervention of Sovacool who admitted most of the issues.

        Actually, after some additional research I had found additional evidences that even what remained of the study was wrong, but I didn’t take the time to write it properly as Sovacool had vanished from the discussion.

        For your information :
        – the former NRC Resident Inspector at Davis-Besse had testified in the comment that the corrective action had in effect removed all the bird kills (two steps of this, safety lights around these buildings in fall 1978, and then the use more powerful high-pressure sodium-vapor lights in spring 1979 as per “COOLING TOWERS AS OBSTACLES IN BIRD MIGRATIONS”, 11-1-1979 by Manfred Temme), and their monitoring has therefore later been canceled by NRC ( ML021200273.pdf )
        – As a result of Davis-Besse, all the nuclear plant must fill a chapter about bird kill and how they will be avoided in their Environmental Impact Statement. No other plant than Davis-Besse has had any identified problem
        – Sovacool also accuses the Limerick plant of having caused birds kills. Actually the document he refers to documents birds kills *during the construction of the plant*. No bird kills is documented in the Environmental Impact Statement of the plant after it has been put in operation. I conclude that the application of the lesson learned at Davis-Besse have allowed to put in place proper corrective measures once the plant was in operation and avoid the kills.
        I will note one thing. Nothing in the title or the abstract of this study (J. Field Ornithol. 76(2):127–133, 2005, but the samples used had been collected in 1979 and 1980) refers to a nuclear plant. Finding out that the bird kills used in the study have any link with a nuclear plant requires reading it’s full content. I’m not aware of any research engine that indexes the full content of scientific studies, so it’s a mystery to me how Sovacool managed to locate it in that study, it really was a prowess. That’s completely in contrast with how sloppy much of the other work in the study is, with numerous blatant mistakes including miscalculations, but every single of those errors resulting in an increase in the number of bird kills attributed to nuclear. It’s very, very strange how Sovacool can go to such extreme length to locate a document about a possible bird kills linked with nuclear, and do so many errors when it comes to verifying if the data he found is correct.

        As the original accusation that uranium mining causes birds kill had also been demonstrated as being non-sense, we can conclude that opposite to Sovacool’s position, there’s no significant link at all between the two, except the very diffuse one that’s really inherent to any human activity.

        But since in some case, the restricted area around nuclear plants actually protects birds (like the Navarre Marsh around Davis-Besse, where the environment reports actually report a regular increase in the number of rare and protected American Bald Eagles) , the net effect is likely actually positive.

        1. EL, we have amply debunked Sovacool’s paper here about nuclear bird kills, and with personal intervention of Sovacool who admitted most of the issues.

          @jmdesp

          You don’t have this correct. I read the discussion (here) before submitting my comment. Sovacool provided an extensive “debunking” of Paul’s piece (particularly with respect to tone), and extended the discussion from the article (as was his original hope) to include a fuller and more accurate accounting of the available research. In some cases, his summary of the available research underestimated the numbers, and in other cases overestimated (or made broad generalizations on impact of “generic” cooling towers). “Despite the unnecessarily vitriolic nature of Paul’s commentary, my own study was intended to start a discussion and lead to better research.” I view the discussion as rather successful in that regard (when you try and ignore the various ad hominem, baseless attacks, and false characterization speckled through the comments).

          You make a number of relevant points in your comment that are worth following up (and including in any subsequent review). But your broader conclusions (what you extrapolate from them) are not very well founded, the best I can tell.

          A list of points:

          I think you are telling us that monitoring for bird deaths at David-Besse was cancelled in 1979 (not that bird deaths were zero).

          “No other plant than Davis-Besse has had any identified problem.” How do you know this?

          For Limerick, yes, the report is for a two year period during the plant construction phase. No other numbers are provided for any other years in the cited reference. This is not the same as zero bird deaths were recorded for every other year.

          “No bird kills is documented in the Environmental Impact Statement of the plant after it has been put in operation.” Where is the document that reports this (especially with cancelled monitoring programs)?

          “As the original accusation that uranium mining causes birds kill had also been demonstrated as being non-sense.” Is this your opinion, or is there something more objective to back it up? I find this statement unlikely and surprising.

          “the net effect is likely actually positive.” Again, is there a study showing this. Or is canceling monitoring programs at power plants getting in the way of obtaining more accurate and informative data to answer these questions.

          I see more agreement between you and Sovocool than anything else, you are both arguing for more monitoring and more extensive and accurate long term research (as am I in my original comment). If these are the questions we want answered, we should do the work to answer them. I don’t have a problem with this.

          I wish you would give nuclear engineers and scientists credit for being “at work to develop strategies” to address the issues that you raise so often in regard to our technology.

          @Rod Adams

          Of course I do. But problem solving doesn’t stop with nuclear, and it’s always been a little bit of a mystery to me why fully capable and competent engineers drop their problem solving and technical skills when it comes to renewables on the site (and pick them up again with nuclear).

          At Ivanpah, I believe they are looking at control strategies for mirror array that maintain production levels and minimize solar flux, and other strategies (mentioned in Tucker’s references). They don’t yet know if birds are attracted to the mirrors because they are mistaking them for water (but are considering it). Company says it is confident it’s engineers can address the issue (and we’ll see if they are correct or not). And we also need to more fully understand the scale of the problem (particularly if it is very small).

          There appears to be a great deal of attention put on this issue. It looks to me that it will very likely be very thoroughly studied. I find this encouraging that environmentalists are so active in the issue, and the company is working so closely to respond to issues (and develop solutions).

          1. it’s always been a little bit of a mystery to me why fully capable and competent engineers drop their problem solving and technical skills when it comes to renewables on the site

            You cannot engineer the weather.  It is a problem without solutions.

          2. I suspected that you are either (a) so disconnected from reality that you think engineers and scientists can re-make the world to your whim, or (b) so disingenuous that you blame scientists and engineers for failing to do so when you know the failure was inherent in your proposals.

            I don’t know which one, but you just proved that it’s one or the other and proof that your participation here is of absolutely no value.

          3. I don’t know which one, but you just proved that it’s one or the other and proof that your participation here is of absolutely no value.

            @E-P

            Huh?

            So you’re not familiar with any engineers working on renewable energy technologies or future energy infrastructure markets where renewable generation “is expected to surpass that from natural gas and double that from nuclear power by 2016,” with new markets scaling rapidly in non-OECD regions (here, here, and here)?

            If you wish to NOT be taken seriously, you are off to a pretty good start.

          4. So you’re not familiar with any engineers working on renewable energy technologies

            I know plenty of engineers who are happy to have work, period.  Plenty of engineers in many industries have been paid to work on projects which were doomed to fail by flawed concepts or incompetent management.  I’ve found myself on a couple myself.

            There is no “engineer juju” that will miraculously make things work.  Sunlight and wind are variable and often absent.  Thermal cycling is troublesome, storage systems are lossy and often expensive.  Working around these things takes resources, usually counted in money.  When something costs too much, it means that your EROI is in the toilet and your idea is a bad one.  If you were actually an environmentalist instead of a concern troll, you’d take that to heart.

            I’m not going to bother to click through on your links.  If you want to use them to make points, quote the specific text that supports your assertions.  Otherwise, sod off, troll.

          5. There is no “engineer juju” that will miraculously make things work … Working around these things takes resources, usually counted in money.

            – EP

            I might be mistaken, but is there an energy resource (besides human bluster) that doesn’t need resources and money to develop? You once again adequately prove my point. Your engineering acumen clearly stops at feasible alternatives to nuclear power. You’d rather whittle away your time on LFTR, and other abandoned reactor concepts from the early days of nuclear power.

            Be my guest … “doomed to fail” projects (and remaining irrelevant to the evolving debate) appears to be your forte.

          6. I might be mistaken, but is there an energy resource (besides human bluster) that doesn’t need resources and money to develop?

            I already mentioned the specific issue you’re handwaving about:  “Working around these things takes resources, usually counted in money. When something costs too much, it means that your EROI is in the toilet and your idea is a bad one.”

            Wind and solar require many times the steel, concrete and other resources for the same energy output from nuclear.  Nuclear pays off faster and lasts longer.  All your quibbles were proven baseless long ago.  If you think that payoff takes too long to start, help by getting rid of the useless regulations and the regulators charged with enforcing them.

            Go away, concern troll.

          7. “Working around these things takes resources, usually counted in money. When something costs too much, it means that your EROI is in the toilet and your idea is a bad one.”

            @EP

            Wind has a more attractive EROI than nuclear.

            http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05282.x

            Nuclear takes longer to pay off. Many plants close before their operating lifetimes are reached. And I’m starting to think you don’t understand EROI as a concept (since you have applied it incorrectly above).

            When you say things that are plainly inaccurate, you should expect comments on your post. It’s really that simple. I’m not sure why you think otherwise, but personal attacks are getting tiresome and nowhere in substantiating your views (especially when they are plainly incorrect and appearing to merit revision on an common and pretty obvious basis).

          8. @EL & @EP : Or the troll should do his homework first. This study is cited as the source for the graph and table included in this Wikipedia entry ;
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_returned_on_energy_invested#Economic_influence_of_EROEI

            Nuclear is at 10 on the graph, against 18/20 for wind but the table down shows this is actually for nuclear with diffusion enrichment, and centrifuge is at 50.

            Clearly EL you have seen the whole study. And you follow Atomic Insights since a long time, so hardly can have missed the explanation that there’s not a single diffusion enrichment plant left running in the world anymore.
            So I hardly believe that this can be counted as a honest mistake.

          9. @jmdesp

            No … the study I cited does not give 50 for contrifuge.. And neither does your link. It gives a range of 5 to 15 for nuclear. And it adds:

            “There were many off-the-cuff calculations of much higher or lower EROIs for someone’s favorite or least-favorite fuel (especially some very high numbers for nuclear), but there was little new peer-reviewed quality work. We extend that request for additional studies here” (p. 110).

            The table you are citing (origin unknown) is an estimate for high burnup fast reactors with centrifuge (not centrifuge v. diffusion).

            [corrected for bold]

          10. Please stick to the factual arguments.

            Rod – Perhaps EL should stick to citing sources that are not hidden behind paywalls.

            From what we have been able to glean from EL’s droppings from that article (delivered in duplicate, no less), Murphy and Hall apparently don’t know what the EROI for nuclear is — which kind of makes whatever point he thought he was trying to make utterly moot.

            Not that EL cares, mind.

          11. From what we have been able to glean from EL’s droppings from that article (delivered in duplicate, no less), Murphy and Hall apparently don’t know what the EROI for nuclear is — which kind of makes whatever point he thought he was trying to make utterly moot.

            @Brian Mays.

            So what is it. Do you have a better source. jmdesp provided a link to a wiki page that suggests it’s 10. My source suggests it may be greater (as high as 15).

            What do your figures (hopefully well substantiated) suggest?

          12. Comments aren’t threading as I expect them to, so I’m quoting jmdesp to indicate what I’m replying to.

            Nuclear is at 10 on the graph, against 18/20 for wind but the table down shows this is actually for nuclear with diffusion enrichment, and centrifuge is at 50.

            The Wikipedia page referenced is confused.  LWRs require about 140,000 SWU of enrichment per GW-yr of generation.  At 2500 kWh/SWU for gaseous diffusion enrichment, this 350 GWh is divided by 8766 GWh to 4%.  Centrifuge enrichment would be about 1/50 of this, or just under 0.1%.

            The Wikipedia page states the EROI of LWRs using GD is 10, LWRs with GS is 50.  The difference between 1/10 (10%) and 1/50 (2%) is not 4%, it is 8%.  From this I conclude that the EROI of nuclear with GD is closer to 20 even with the pessimistic assumptions of the page author.  world-nuclear.org puts it at 74.

          13. world-nuclear.org puts it at 74.

            @EP

            That Vattenfall study really is a gift to the industry, isn’t it? Too bad most people don’t give it much credit (even folks on the site).

            It’s clearly an outlier on the high side. Most of the energy inputs are from non-fossil fuel sources (in particular hydro). They account for transportation of waste to fuel repositories (but not construction of those facilities). Service life is 50 years (not a more typical 40). It’s basically a material and transport inventory … Lenzen reports many upstream contributions were omitted: auxiliary services, insurance, service inputs. Weissbach faults Vattenfall for subtracting enrichment energy demands from the output rather than adding it to the input: “it was argued that the enrichment is done by nuclear power in Tricastin (France), but this happens outside the analyzed plant, Forsmark, so it should be treated as an (external) input” (p. 219).

            If you have a specific link to this study, it is not provided on WNA site, I’d like to see it (and look at it closer). There are several available from Vattenfall, and it is unclear to me what study they are using.

            Take away the outlier, and there’s not much else to go on. We’re still looking at a range above or below wind (taking into account today’s larger turbines). And yes, from an EROI perspective (and emissions perspective), gaseous diffusion doesn’t make a lot of sense.

          14. @EL : The main business of Vatenfall is coal, not nuclear. They are also a major offshore wind operator in Denmark, and important in UK.
            When I see that the Danish Wind Energy Association gives an EROEI of 20 for wind, should I call that a gift for the industry too ?

            Yes, the Wikipedia page has mislead me. While all the other numbers come from Murphy & Hall, the one about centrifuge enrichment didn’t. History of it’s editing show the real source was WNA : http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Energy-and-Environment/Energy-Analysis-of-Power-Systems/
            (I’ll try to edit it to make this more visible).

            However it doesn’t mean that it’s a number invented by WNA.
            In table 2 on the page, WNA gives it’s source, a list of studies Kivisto 2000, Inst. Policy Science 1977, Uchiyama et al 1991, all of them are around 50.

            The numbers for diffusion enrichment on the same WNA page are around 10 and 20, in agreement with the Murphy & Hall, it’s not like they use deliberately skewed numbers.
            For wind, the studies they have found vary strongly from 6 to 80 (the 80 one is an outlier for everything it finds), but the average is quite near Murphy & Hall, as well as for other technologies, coal, gas, etc.

            You said a commenter here found the Vatenfall study unconvincing. He also found the Sovacool one probably correct, Sovacool actually used the Storm numbers 4 times in the 19 studies he really included, and made significant error with 2 other studies. Criticizing the Vatenfall study for not including auxiliary services requires to have checked if the study it’s compared to have included them, they are not by nature massively more expensive than for wind per produced kWh (TVA mention M&O cost of 20$ per MWh, and wind industry sources are around 10€/MWh for wind, but I’ve seen an government assessment in France more at 20€). Weissbach faults Vattenfall for subtracting enrichment, this is correct if the purpose is to assess the Forsmark site, but we are here using the result as a proxy for nuclear industry as a whole. In other words, you can have a number as good as Vattenfall using gaseous diffusion if the electricity for it also fully comes from nuclear within your evaluated perimeter, but also if you use centrifuge instead.

            At the end, it still seems to me the EROI for centrifuge, which is today the only technology in use, is significantly better than for wind, except maybe very large turbines at very good sites.

          15. When I see that the Danish Wind Energy Association gives an EROEI of 20 for wind, should I call that a gift for the industry too ?

            @jmdesp

            Absolutely not. Because a meta review of available research on issue (correcting broken link above) suggests an EROI of 25.2 (19.8 if we limit to operational wind farms). This number is well established and independently verified. It is not an outlier.

            The main business of Vatenfall is coal, not nuclear.

            Vattenfall gives the following energy mix for Sweden and the Forsmark plant (relevant to their 2005 LCA): 56.4% nuclear, 41.9% hydro, 1% wind, 0.4% biomass, 0.2% peat.

            In table 2 on the page, WNA gives it’s source, a list of studies Kivisto 2000, Inst. Policy Science 1977, Uchiyama et al 1991, all of them are around 50.

            There is no Kivisto 2000, Uchiyama 1991, or Inst. Policy Science 1977, in their source list. IAEA TecDoc Series No. 753 is out of print (and I can’t find it on-line). So I can’t really comment. Assumptions and system boundaries account for large variability in LCA studies. Murphy or Hall don’t mention these studies, and neither do others I have reviewed. Perhaps these fall into the category that Murphy and Hall mentions: not peer reviewed (and very high numbers for a favorite technology). While I don’t discount a range of 50, I think these numbers are very optimistic, and it would be really great if WNA did a better job documenting their resources, or even more broadly surveying the available literature (particularly for sources that aren’t in excess of 20 or 30 years old).

            Sovacool actually used the Storm numbers

            Storm and Smith are a part of this discussion (and it’s fair for Soovocol to include them in a meta review). He states pretty clearly that their “estimate has not been universally accepted” (p. 2944) … and that subsequent research has shown they overestimated “the energy expenditures, and thus greenhouse gas emissions, associated with nuclear power” (p. 2945). If anything, documenting these shortfalls does a great deal to firm up a consensus that these figures are flawed, and newer studies (that don’t have the same shortcomings) should be used instead.

            1. @EL

              Why is it fair to conduct a meta review that includes numbers from studies where the consensus is that the figures are flawed? What good does it do to acknowledge the flaws without quantifying their effect? If other studies included in the meta review base their results on the same flawed methodology, doesn’t that merely increase the bias to the lower EROI numbers for nuclear that you seem to like?

              What makes “newer” studies inherently superior to older ones, especially older ones that are not derived using the flawed methods of Storm and Smith?

          16. Why is it fair to conduct a meta review that includes numbers from studies where the consensus is that the figures are flawed?

            @Rod Adams.

            First … because it’s a meta study, and Storm Smith is important to understanding the history of the debate. But also (I would answer) because there is no “better” definitive study out there that does not also have it’s problems. There is a great deal of variability … and a range of studies with different assumptions, variables, system boundaries, etc. Lacking an option for saying “this one is the best,” and then excluding all the others, you take the range (and properly detail for their differences).

            LCA is a pretty amorphous thing. And it changes with improving technology (or challenges such as lower ore grades). Most papers looking at it attest to this (and the wide variability of results). Until we get a definitive study on these issues (and Vattenfall isn’t it), we’re stuck with Storm Smith. And despite being an industry source and not peer reviewed, we’re stuck with Vattenfall as well (as an outlier).

            The work you are looking for (that isn’t skewed by partial results, incomplete understanding, need for revisions, non-standard assumptions, etc.) has yet to be done. We have some estimates. A good question is why … Sovoocol, Murphy & Hall, WNA, and others (me, you, even EP who seems pretty sure of himself) have given a pretty good indication why this would be worthwhile, and why resolving these issues (and arriving at more certain and thorough understanding) would be a good thing.

      2. Whenever I see “environmentalists” or anyone reference the Svacool paper I am torn between disgust and pity for the person bringing it up. Its issues are numerous, blatant and well documented:

        ( https://atomicinsights.com/nukes-kill-more-birds-than-wind/ )

        ( https://atomicinsights.com/lorenzini-rebuts-sovacools-defense-of-nuclear-bird-kill-paper-as-weak/ )

        Bats are not birds and other problems with Sovacool’s (2009) analysis of
        animal fatalities due to electricity generation ( http://www.researchgate.net/profile/R_Brigham/publication/227415277_Bats_are_not_birds_and_other_problems_with_Sovacool%27s_%282009%29_analysis_of_animal_fatalities_due_to_electricity_generation/file/32bfe50dca8dea5c22.pdf )

        But beyond all that. Right off the bat doesn’t it seem like a invisible, intermittent, imperceivable, maiming/deadly obstacle spread over far, far, FAR more area would be more of an issue for wildlife than a MUCH less pervasive rigid opaque obstacle? Isn’t that easy to understand ?

        Cant you at least see that EL?

        AND BTW the capacity factor is 32 percent at the Ivanpah facility. Meaning as much as Eight or NINE times that project would be needed to replace the electricity provided by a new nuclear large reactor. If it wore not intermittent and could actually replace it that is.

        Its well beyond foolhardy.

        1. Its well beyond foolhardy.

          @John T. Tucker

          If costs come down, storage is added (for baseload operation and capacity factors in excess of 60%), conservation programs provide vital monitoring and enhanced protection for threatened species, and avian mortality is smaller than for other available technologies, that sounds pretty darn good to me.

          “Can’t you at least see that” … John T.

          1. “If costs come down, storage is added (for baseload operation and capacity factors in excess of 60%)”

            If huge amounts are being wasted now. Thats what that means because if energy is put into storage the peak capacity would normally be reduced.

            That land is off the market for habitat. Permanently. Get real EL.

      3. @EL

        I wish you would give nuclear engineers and scientists credit for being “at work to develop strategies” to address the issues that you raise so often in regard to our technology. Believe it or not, a lot of very bright people have come up with some pretty good ways of mitigating the challenges we face.

        It will be interesting to see what kind of mitigations the biologists devise to protect birds and warn them away from danger zones associated with this rather massive piece of infrastructure that seems to resemble a lake when viewed with birds eyes from above. Maybe we will see some kind of netting around the 3,500 acres that extends at least 450 feet into the air.

  15. I have to comment on the fact that the Universe of Energy has solar panels that Disney claims make 77Kw, enough for 15 homes. But that is only enough electricity to power the ride vehicles, which they make a big hype about. The show building is huge, at least as large as a Wal Mart and 60 feet high and being in Florida the air conditioning must use a huge amount of energy, not to mention some of the effects in the dinosaur scene giving off the heat and all the projectors. Which brings an interesting question, could WDW use as much energy as a nuclear power station creates? If so, its a wonder they don’t own their own power station. Question: In the past, would their electricity have come from Crystal River? Could it have come from Levy county?

  16. “If costs come down, storage is added (for baseload operation and capacity factors in excess of 60%), conservation programs provide vital monitoring and enhanced protection for threatened species, and avian mortality is smaller than for other available technologies, that sounds pretty darn good to me.”

    If costs are allowed to come down, adequate storage is designed for 60 years of spent fuel, you provide the minimal conservation programs necessary for threatened species (little threat to birds), you provide the expected baseload power with a good capacity factor to a great many people and you do it with the anticipated safety, nuke plants sound pretty darn good to me.

  17. “And how do you propose to generate the rest?”

    Many power plants will provide a baseload amount and swing upwards to a peak value as load increases. Nuke plants haven’t typically done that in the past, but are capable of it. This would provide a one stop shop providing the power needs of the customer.

    As far as generating the rest, Another alternative I’d like to see more money spent on pumped hydro. This would enable the dream of intermittent power sources that many seem to favor in these times. This is an expensive endeavor, but one that is largely benign to the environment..

    There was research done on underground compressed air energy storage a few years back. The air would be compressed at times of low power and used to drive a turbine at times when peak power is needed. Once again, I see a method that is largely benign to the environment.

    A sophisticated energy storage method that also seems to no longer be researched is the Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES). The idea of this is that it would store energy in a magnetic field and draw on it at peak times. A cool high tech idea.

    Peak power needs may be met by hydro plants if they are allowed to raise the pond level at times of less energy needs and draw down at times of higher needs. Of course, a minimum flow is maintained for fish, other wildlife and recreational needs.

    Multiple units account for offline maintenance periods. There used to be a rule for something like 20 percent spinning reserve. This worked well to provide reliable power to the ratepayers. Outages are planned in the Spring and Fall when there is less peak load needs ensuring no interruptions.

    Finally, there is the environmentalist’s favorite, natural gas fired turbines. Inexpensive and may be online in less than 20 minutes. They do produce Carbon Dioxide, but nothing is perfect.

    1. @Eino

      So the only thing you disfavor then is lower cost renewables (lower than coal, natural gas, nuclear, and wholesale peak energy ), and alternatives that permit consumers to develop their own electricity (to offset, and lower over the long run, their utility bill)?

        1. Pure misinformation.

          You don’t think we’re going to live in a carbon constrained world?

          You don’t think LCOE for renewables is looking attractive to many developers who look at current price supports for carbon based fuels, and see declining costs and rising expectations for a relatively secure, clean, and low investment risk technology as we roll over generation stock and modernize the grid.

          Fossil fuels aren’t cheap … and neither is new nuclear (sorry to break the news to you). Beyond baseload … it’s a pretty heavy lift. Even if we were to significantly roll back regulatory and health safety standards (which is the liturgy here on rising costs).

        2. “Lower cost” for who? Certainly not consumers. Pure misinformation.

          @John T. Tucker

          Please look at latest EIA assessment on cost of energy?

          http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

          Solar (unsubsidized) beats coal in some regions of the US, and onshore wind (unsubsidized and with higher transmission costs to remote locations) delivers a rout to nuclear (advanced nuclear means SMRs in this instance). Compare to Hinkley strike price (which is a subsidized rate), and most of the resources on the page look more attractive (from a cost perspective). Offshore wind still has a long ways to go.

          1. You think that is electric rates EL? So people should just buy solar during the day becasue its cheaper than nuclear at night? Ok. Sounds like a good plan.

          2. @EL : On that page, Nuclear is cheaper than Advanced Coal with or without CCS as well as many renewable like Biomass, PV and thermal solar.

            Wind (with hydro) is the only renewable technology that appears cheaper than nuclear on it. Is that the only thing you want to build ? Did you just change your mind about Ivanpah ?

            You talked about Hinkley. Don’t you know that the strike price for Hinkley is cheaper than the strike price for any renewable in UK, including on-shore wind ?
            See here : http://www.marklynas.org/2013/06/is-solar-really-four-times-the-cost-of-nuclear-no-but/

            You’re getting quite some flack here recently, being called a troll. But when doing this kind of manipulation, of cherry picking numbers between countries with different cost structure and not directly comparable subvention scheme, you deserve it.

          3. Don’t you know that the strike price for Hinkley is cheaper than the strike price for any renewable in UK, including on-shore wind.

            @jmdesp

            Is there a reason why Lynas isn’t using the real strike prices for renewables in UK, and not an outdated draft summary (and for very small projects no less).

            500kW – 1.5 MW: £78.3/MWh
            1.5 MW – 5 MW: £33.2/MWh
            Larger projects don’t qualify.

            Yes … I’m aware of data manipulations that are common on the site (which is why I often try to provide links so people can look up the information themselves). Your comment might be better addressed to Mark Lynas in this instance.

            You’re getting quite some flack here recently, being called a troll.

            There appears to be significant misunderstanding of the use of this term on this site. I agree, I do not conform to the “groupthink” that is prevalent on the site (and the ad hominem basis on which it is enforced). The site would be much better off without this (IMHO). My comments are not unusual or ill-informed. They are reasonably objective and credible, reflect current understandings in many instances (as I often try and show), and I make every effort to substantiate them on a routine and consistent basis. If people can’t defend their positions, but have to resort to name calling and rude on-line behavior (that is no reflection on me). People disagree, I understand this. I don’t understand why any of this has to be personal. Make your case, answer questions (when they are relevant), and leave it for others to decide.

            Yes … I am frequently challenging nuclear advocates to make their case (especially in the presence of better information). What is the alternative, only make comments when it conforms to the groupthink on the site, and learn nothing new in the process and absorb no new information or perspectives. That sounds awfully dull and lifeless to me. How about you? The world (much less what we know about it) just doesn’t work this way.

          4. Is there a reason why Lynas isn’t using the real strike prices for renewables in UK[?]

            Er … perhaps that’s because those were the recently announced real strike prices when Lynas wrote that piece? (See here)

            You linked to the table of feed-in tariffs for microgeneration.

            Duh!

            Don’t you know the difference between the two?

          5. You linked to the table of feed-in tariffs for microgeneration.

            @Brian Mays

            Thanks for the link (and correction) … that’s a hefty sum.

            They appear to be 15 year contracts (with final 5 years of operating lifetime receiving no support), and final price settled at £5 lower than draft proposal (£95 starting in 2014 and £90 in 2018).

            Yes … UK renewable energy policies are a bit of a mess. FIT applies to small scale micro projects (up to 5 MW). Above that level (which I missed), there is a Renewables Obligation program, and a Contract for Difference scheme (known as Strike Price). All within a Levy Control Framework (which controls rising costs for consumers). “The contracts [strike prices] will be delivered from within the Levy Control Framework, and is consistent with the plans announced this week reducing the average household bill by £50 a year by early 2014.”

            They appear to want to provide a clear (and hefty) incentive to meet target goals in the short run (and also have set rates to provide for faster cost recovery in the initial phases of project). The same could be said for nuclear.

            Offshore made some progress yesterday with first major purchase of Vestas V164 8MW turbine in UK: “Dong is trying to reduce the cost of offshore wind by 35 to 40 percent. Using bigger turbines contributes to that goal because they require fewer foundations and reap more wind power per machine. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates offshore wind costs about $189 per megawatt-hour over the life of a project, more than double the cost of wind farms on land, as well as gas and coal plants” (here).

  18. “Fossil fuels aren’t cheap …

    Natural gas is a fossil fuel. It’s the cheapest thing out there.

    “and neither is new nuclear (sorry to break the news to you)”

    You are a smart guy. Look deep into why and ask if things are done in the best interests of the public.

    Renewables look attractive to investors because Uncle Sam is paying them to build them with tax credits. They are demanded by many states. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, but if the problem is Carbon Dioxide, other means of addressing the issue that may have other attractive should be considered in the legislation. Don’t put all your eggs in a basket with a big hole in it.

  19. Its too bad that when I go on Ellens’ Energy Adventure at Epcot that I don’t hear all this good news about nuclear energy, all I hear about is Bill Nye saying it is “expensive and controversial”. I want all of us to write to Westinghouse (or Areva) to sponsor the Universe of Energy and have hands on exhibits at Innoventions. So, start writing and telling Dan that you want to see an update or replacement of Ellens Energy Adventure on your next Disney vacation.
    Oh, and they way I would have it, they could still keep the cool dinosaurs, saying that fossil fuels took that long to be created and they are too valuable to burn.

    1. all I hear about is Bill Nye saying it is “expensive and controversial”.

      Bob – If you had seen Bill Nye on TV three years ago, in the wake of the Fukushima accident, you would not be surprised. The “science guy” seriously doesn’t have the first clue. He managed to come up with some real howlers.

      1. You might almost think that being a popularizer is so big a job, it makes it impossible to stay up to date on all the bits of science (which is also a big job).

  20. I see the fall back position here, used by some, is to counter polite rebuttal and concise comment by spitting out the word “troll”:

    It says more about the person resorting to that tactic than it does about the person being targeted for such derision. Even if one ignores the validity of either “sides” artgument, and just considers delivery, one wonders why EP and Brian feel the need to invariably resort to insult and dersion. It is base braying, no better than barnyard racket.

    Too bad. This is a great site, deserving of quality comment. Whether you agree with EL or not, his arguments are buttressed by his delivery.

    In contrast, spitting the word “troll” only makes a jackass of of the commentor, and seriously calls into question his ability to defend his argument.

    1. What else would you call a person, whose points you’ve rebutted repeatedly with reliable sources, who continues to pretend to misunderstand and intentionally obfuscates the facts in a never ending mission to further his argument? When one side stops having a real conversation, eventually it is fair for the other side to call him a troll.

      At this point, EL is just trying to pollute this site with misinformation, probably in hopes of misleading folks who stop by for some information.

      1. At this point, EL is just trying to pollute this site with misinformation, probably in hopes of misleading folks who stop by for some information.

        @Jeff Walther

        Are we reading the same site?

  21. Ah, trying to personalize the issue to misdirect argument.  Sleazy… but I never thought you any better since your first tirades here.

    Nobody’s after me, because I’m a nobody.  But there’s a huge amount of money in play in fossil fuels, and the owners will go to great lengths to protect the value of their assets against anything that would impair it.  The almost-hysterical campaign against climate science is proof that they are in fact doing so.  The four-decades-long attack on nuclear energy is another.

  22. Unfortunately wholesale prices do not dictate consumer prices.

    Incidentally I was wondering why I really dont see articles on German electricity prices or blackouts for that matter. EL of course, said blackouts were not an issue there but I would still expect to see a few stories. Turns out they are out there, but they dont make the transition cut.

    Electricity blackout in German is Stromausfall, Energiewende is the renewable energy transition. Some notable quotes so far (sorry if the HTML is buggered up – its a work in progress):

    DEC 2013 Dec 2013 Asked about the reasons for the higher probability of default call 61 percent of managers possible network overloads, see 51 percent lower security of supply as a result of the energy transition.

    Around three out of ten managers see to view the next twelve months a significantly increased probability of prolonged power outages, as emerges from a survey conducted by the auditing and consulting firm PwC shows. For comparison: In the past five years, half of the holdings was affected by a power outage that was corrected in two of three cases in less than an hour.

    Aug 2013 TIME: … after the phase out nuclear power in Germany is nothing collapsed!

    Umbach: False. We have since been three times just sidestepped to a widespread power outage. Intervention to stabilize the grid have become the rule.

    The romantic notion of decentralized solar energy completely ignores that even hundreds of thousands of decentralized photovoltaic systems act as a major power plant. Their performance must also be integrated into a corresponding composite system.

    The “decentralization” thing we knew was a farce. And there have been at least 3 instances where major intervention was needed to advert widespread blackouts. Blackouts do occur.

    1. “Unfortunately wholesale prices do not dictate consumer prices. ” – on second thought that probably isn’t true for all energy. Just intermittent sources.

      Some of those links worked and some didn’t. I think from now on if its in another language ill post the translation and link to the original and say which translator was used.

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